Part IV – Life of the Italian Super-Mamma – Not the ‘Dolce Vita’
As recent articles have shown, traditions, manners, discipline and parenting habits can vary dramatically from one country to the next, but the Italian Mamma is up against more than her counterparts in the US and France.
A fascinating study by three women at the prestigious University of Bocconi in Milan titled “Mothers Who Work: Economics, Income and Rights” (Alessandra Casarico, Paola Profeta, Lidia Ceriani) revealed some depressing statistics for Italian Mammas. They discovered that most of the housework in Italy is done by women and that women spend 80 minutes more working everyday than men both in the home and outside the home. They compared that with Spain where women work 54 minutes more than men every day and in the United States and Norway where there is no difference.
An Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report turned that statistic around showing that Italian men have 80 minutes more leisure time every day than women. Could that be because they are not doing the cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing at home???
The Bocconi study also showed that 81,4 % of Italians believe that children will suffer if their mamma works. I’ve been on the receiving end of concerns about this issue. Italians are often astounded when they learn that I have three children and also maintain a relatively demanding job with Associated Press Television in Rome.
It is no wonder that 27 % of Italian women quit work after having a child, according to an OECD report. I have found that even when they do keep their jobs Italian Mammas will drop everything for the smallest problem with a child. I know a mother who managed to get permission for two weeks off work as a high-school teacher when she found out her son had lice.
Interestingly, Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. According to the Italian National Statistics Institute (ISTAT) the birthrate in Italy was 1,42 per woman in 2011. Perhaps this is because Italian women know how hard it is to be an Italian Super-Mamma.
In 2011 the World Economic Forum published its Gender Gap Report ranking countries on the treatment of women. The study looked at a variety of issues including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health, longevity and political empowerment. Out of 135 countries Italy was 74th. That is in comparison with 17th for the United States and 48th for France. Iceland was number 1.
Not exactly a ‘Dolce Vita’ or a ‘Roman Holiday’ for Italian Mammas!
I’ve found that I don’t have the time, energy of patience to live up to the standards of the Italian Super-Mammas. Many of my Italian Mamma friends tackle their tasks with determination, enthusiasm, and creativity. They manage to be stylish and sophisticated while pushing themselves to exhaustion to make life easier for their husbands and children in a society that does not help them.
I am not the greatest cook, I hate doing laundry, and, unfortunately for me, I don’t look like Sophia Loren but I think my kids might just be better for it. And you will never see me dragging Nico’s laundry all over the country; he will learn to do it himself.